With a population of fewer than 7000 citizens, Maricao is the smallest municipality on the main island of Puerto Rico, and a gem of a mountain retreat near the western end of the Ruta Panorámica. This is a town of little commerce, with rushing streams, gorges, bridges, terraced houses, switchback roads, and weather so cool and damp that some houses have stone fireplaces to take the nip out of the air. Outside the town there is beautiful mountain terrain and the largest state forest in Puerto Rico, the Bosque Estatal de Maricao.
With its peaks, dark forests and fog, Maricao is just the kind of place in which legends take root. Admirers of Maricao claim that it was the strong coffee grown here that woke up the devil on the island. Another story claims that 2000 Taíno survived here into the 19th century, centuries after the last native Puerto Ricans were thought to have disappeared.
Stopping here for a day or two is probably as close as a traveler can come to experiencing the charms of the legendary jíbaro’s existence. Maricao hosts a popular coffee-harvest festival in mid-February, with crafts and traditional coffee-making demonstrations.